UNDER pressure foodbanks that are struggling to cope during the coronavirus emergency and looming economic crisis have been given a boost by a leading housebuilder.

Devizes & District Foodbank, which reported a 50 per cent increase in demand at the height of the crisis, has been given £1,000 along with Swindon Food Collective.

David Wilson Homes, which is developing at Mill Brook in Westbury and Lay Wood in Devizes, and Barrett which is building in Swindon, has stepped in with much-needed funds so the volunteer-run foodbanks can increase their support.

Liz Starling, project manager for Devizes & District Foodbank said: “The coronavirus outbreak has hit some of the poorest people in our communities hardest and, like other local food banks, we’ve seen a huge surge in demand for food parcels over the past few months.

“Our volunteer teams are working tirelessly to ensure that we have the necessary stocks to respond to this crisis.

“In April alone we gave out 102 emergency food boxes, of which 57 were to families with children, - that is an increase of 50 per cent over the same period last year.

“We want to say a big thank you to Barratt and David Wilson Homes for these generous donations which mean we will be able to continue to respond to the fast-changing situation and provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support for people in crisis.”

Cher Smith manager of Swindon Food Collective said: “One lady of 77 years rang for help recently as she had just eaten the last of her frozen vegetables and didn’t know how to get any more food.”

Now many of Wiltshire’s foodbanks fear many more families will be affected by job losses in the wake of the pandemic.

Even though coronavirus lockdowns are lifting the foodbanks say they are still dealing with the devastating impact the virus has had on the economy and jobs.

They are continuing to see a huge increase in demand, with the Trussell Trust reporting an 81 per cent increase in demand for emergency food parcels compared to the same period last year, including a 122 per cent rise in parcels going to children.

Martin Moyes of the Holt foodbank said the biggest difficulty was getting to people in need. “Tracking people in dire need down is one of the hardest things about this,” he said. “We are a village of around 600 people, and deliver to people so they don’t feel embarrassed.

“For many people it is the first time they have found themselves in such need, and I think it is very hard for them to know how to ask for this kind of help or support. We know there are more people out there who need support and we wish they would come forward. We have had amazing donations here, having been donated about £3k in funds and around £2k in food donations.” He said the foodbank was set up in early May, and has sufficient supplies for another six or so weeks. “This will get us to the end of lockdown ideally, but we may need to set up again in a different guise as redundancies and recession have an impact.”

The Bradford on Avon foodbank has also seen a big rise in demand over the pandemic.

“like all foodbanks, the increase in demand has been phenomenal,” said hub manager Avril Clarke. “We were issuing between five and eight boxes a week, but that has gone up to 30.

“We have also seen an increase in demand for school boxes too and we will carry on with these over the Summer holiday period.

“We will see how we go now that has finished but we are inviting people to come and pick up ten items a week from our Summer Cupboard. People have been incredibly generous and the Fair Share scheme with Tesco has been enormously helpful.”

The same note of incredible generosity has also chimed in Melksham.

Hilary McFall of the Melksham Foodbank said: “Everyone has been amazing. We still get very generous donations from people dropping things in to our baskets in six supermarkets here.”